Understanding Innovation Behavior: A Sociological Approach

Monday, 16 July 2018: 16:02
Oral Presentation
Manuel FERNANDEZ ESQUINAS, CSIC-Spanish Council for Scientific Research, Spain
Madelon VAN OOSTROM, University of La Laguna, Spain
Diana ITURRATE-MERAS, CSIC-Spanish Council for Scientific Research, Spain
Sandro GIACHI, CSIC-Spanish Council for Scientific Resarch, Spain
The value of innovation for economic and social development is widely accepted. Several strands of research try to capture the importance of human aspects of innovation. A great amount of research has been focused on identifying factors that may encourage and enable innovative behavior at work, in teams, groups and organizations, as well as in the use and diffusion of technologies. Nevertheless, there is scarce evidence on what innovation means at societal level. Surprisingly, sociology has not paid much attention to the conceptualization and measuring of innovation from the point of view of the population of innovation systems.

The goal of this paper is to explore the main features of the innovative behavior of people. We depart from a wide definition of innovation as a kind of purposive social action. In addition to the more technical aspects of innovation, we consider creative thinking, collaboration, initiative, openness, a positive approach to failure and trust in other people. We assume that such dimensions of innovation behavior are interrelated, and that they are shaped by both culture and elements of social structure.

We test this approach by using a representative survey of the population of Spain designed for the purpose. The random sample is formed by 2500 people by face-to-face interviews. We first depict the innovative behavior of the whole population and some social strata. Then we use factor analysis and cluster analysis to detect innovation profiles. In addition, we use causal analysis to explore the influences of social class, work conditions, social capital, cultural capital and beliefs.

The results suggest that, when studied at societal level, behaviors, attitudes and abilities related to innovation appear as a central aspect of social differentiation. The conclusions discuss how in the knowledge society this social divide may have important implications for welfare, development and cohesion.